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Is It Music Therapy, Music Education or Music Entertainment?

Did you know that music activates every area of the brain? It's true, scientific researchers have observed that listening to music and engagement in music-based activities can affect all areas of the brain. Music activates the “feel-good centers” of the brain, and it can even help create new neural pathways. The benefits of music are abundant and far-reaching!

As a music therapist, one question I receive all the time is What exactly is music therapy?

The definition of music therapy can be broken into two parts:

  1. It involves the use of evidence-based music interventions designed to accomplish specific goals based on the needs of an individual or group.
  2. All of this happens within a therapeutic relationship, and that person is a credentialed professional music therapist.

To break these parts down further, evidence-based interventions are simply music-oriented experiences or activities such as singing, playing an instrument, moving to music, and songwriting, all...

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Why Can’t I Just Use YouTube?

This month, we’re addressing a question we sometimes get in regard to our virtual music engagement program: Why can’t I just use YouTube? It’s definitely a valid question given the nature of the platform with which we’re all most likely familiar. Let’s explore how Bridgetown Music Therapy’s virtual music engagement program measures against, and ultimately stands apart from YouTube.

1. Dementia-friendly Life Enrichment
While YouTube is more entertainment focused, our program is more than just entertainment - it’s enriching for participants. Our content is recreational in nature. The goal isn’t necessarily to learn a skill or topic, but to have fun doing music while benefitting from enriching music-based activities at the same time. It was also intentionally created to be dementia-friendly.

2. Quality
Unlike a lot of content on YouTube, our videos are extremely high quality, produced by a professional videographer on...

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Promoting Excellence in Activity Programs: A Spotlight on the National Association of Activity Professionals

The National Association of Activity Professionals (NAAP) is comprised of Activity Professionals serving Activity Professionals. Our commitment to the health care sector includes providing quality education, ethics, standards of practice, competencies, and advocacy. 

Activity Professionals provide activity services and programs, which enable individuals to maximize their desired potential and personal interest in activity participation. The provisions of activity programs and services are primarily, but not limited to, the geriatric populations who live in a variety of health care settings that may include other populations with special needs. The clients we serve, the settings in which services are provided, and the services we provide are based on the needs of the populations we serve. The activity practice is based on a comprehensive assessment, development, implementation, documentation, and evaluation of the programs provided. In addition, the unique interests, physical,...

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5 Engaging Activities for You and Your Aging Loved One at Home

Are you the primary caregiver or care partner for your loved one living at home? Perhaps you spend a few hours with a special older individual each week? If so, you may be trying to come up with some activities to do with them, and we've got a few ideas to share with you!

First off, how about getting your hands dirty with gardening? Try planting the easiest to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs. It will be rewarding to harvest them and to enjoy the fruit of your labor together. If you’re not interested in growing your own food, try growing flowers. Picking and arranging flowers could be another activity. If you’re not into growing flowers, just buy them from the store or farmer’s market and have fun arranging flowers together. If gardening and growing flowers aren’t working for you, how about simply going on nature walks? See what plants, flowers, birds, insects and other wildlife you can find. Bring a camera along, and take photos of the beautiful...

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What Are the Benefits of Physical Movement for Seniors?

Physical activity has numerous benefits for older adults. For example, people who exercise tend to have improved immune, digestive, and cognitive function. Getting the body moving can also lead to better blood pressure, bone density, muscle tone, mobility, flexibility, balance and coordination. Maintaining regular physical activity can lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, obesity, mental health issues and heart disease. Another benefit of note is that it can help decrease risk of fall. In general, physical activity can help combat the effects of aging.

Walking is probably the most basic form of exercise and is great for cardio and keeping the body active and in shape. Stretching also counts as exercise. A little bit of stretching each day will do wonders for the body and is a great regular activity. Did you know that music is a natural motivator for physical movement? The rhythmic nature of music helps the brain and body work together to move in time with...

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What Are the Benefits of Deep Breathing for Older Adults?

Deep breathing has many physical and mental health benefits for older adults. For example, it can lower heart rate and blood pressure. It can help reduce stress and anxiety. It can also increase energy levels, improve mental focus, and lead to better sleep. Not to mention deep breathing helps get more oxygen to the brain which positively affects all kinds of functions in the body. This is why it’s so important for older adults to practice deep breathing every single day.

Deep breathing is focused and intentional breathing. It’s sometimes referred to as abdominal breathing, belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing. It’s such a simple practice, why do we so often forget to do it? Deep breathing is like a short cut to release stress as well as improve our physical and mental well-being. According to verywellmind.com, “deep slow breaths activate the parasympathetic nervous system, also called the ‘rest and digest’ system. It also...

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Musical Instrument Tips and Recommendations for Seniors

Do you, your loved one or care community own any instruments? 

Instrument play is fun and can provide opportunities for playfulness and self-expression as well as physical movement. Playing small percussion instruments for example can target various physical and cognitive goals by addressing fine and gross motor movement, crossing midline, eye-hand coordination, rhythmic entrainment, visual tracking, body and spatial awareness, and visual or auditory cues.

Small percussion instruments like maracas are generally easy to pick up and play without any previous knowledge or experience. Don’t worry about sounding good or playing correctly. You don’t necessarily need to know how to play. Start by exploring the instrument and see what sounds you can make.

If you'd like to get some instruments for your care home or particular setting, I recommend West Music - they have a huge selection of quality instruments at reasonable prices. Some of our...

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What Are the Benefits of Singing for Older Adults?

Did you know the activity of singing has a ton of benefits? In many ways, singing is similar to exercise. It’s an aerobic activity, so it gets more oxygen into the blood resulting in better circulation which can lead to improved mood. Singing causes the release of endorphins, which give us that wonderful “lifted” feeling often resulting in stress relief. Also, because singing requires deep breathing, a natural outcome is often reduced anxiety.

Here are 10 amazing benefits of singing:

  1. Uplifts mood
  2. Relieves stress
  3. Reduces anxiety
  4. Lowers blood pressure
  5. Boosts the immune system
  6. Improves breathing (by increasing lung capacity)
  7. Promotes communal bonding
  8. Provides comfort
  9. Broadens expressive communication
  10. Strengthens concentration and memory

I LOVE to sing, and I love to help get the older adults you care for singing too. That’s why 80% of our music program for seniors is focused on singing!

Music is good for the mind, body and soul! At Bridgetown Music Therapy, we...

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Why Is Music Engagement Important and Beneficial for Older Adults?

Music engagement for older adults is important because it can help improve overall quality of life, especially for people living with dementia, disease, disability, a lack of social connection, and other concerns. Music-based activities, such as singing, movement to music and instrument play can benefit and enrich participants' lives in many ways such as:

  • Enhancing memory and recall
  • Reducing stress and anxiety
  • Increasing physical movement and circulation
  • Decreasing agitation and combativeness
  • Increasing self-expression

Active and engaging music experiences can boost health by enhancing a person’s cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being. Participation in music activities has many benefits, often producing amazing outcomes, which can include:

  • Improving verbal communication
  • Promoting rest and relaxation
  • Increasing social interaction
  • Stimulating the brain
  • Helping staff, caregivers and family members connect with their...
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